Metro Safe & Sound 3: South Border's Jay Durias Has An Unbreakable Promise To Make Music, Even Amidst Crisis
"I said that I’ll be doing this forever until I grow old. I'm going there, but this is my happiness and this is my passion. That’s why I will be committed," he says
If South Border's lead man Jay Durias could do anything else in life should he be given a pass to start over, what would he be?
Fans might say an artist, a writer, maybe an actor or a movie man, but the right answer is so far off these tracks that it's actually, well, kind of awesome.
"If I was not a musician, I would be a fisherman for sure," Jay says.
The mental image of a seafaring Jay jamming out in the heart of the ocean to "Habang Atin Ang Gabi," "Kahit Kailan," "Love of My Life," "Rainbow," and all their greatest hits as he casts his net is one to muse over during our days under quarantine, but the thing is, we—and South Border's many, many OG, longtime followers—are thankful that it's just that—an image.
Despite his love for beach dwelling and the simple joys attached to it, he's chosen to live this life as a musician, and a great one at that. In fact, he's committed all his years to creating music, something he considers a lifelong promise unbreakable by anything—not even by a global health crisis.
"I will remain committed as long as I live," he declares.
"I am committed to my band. I am committed to my music and this is the only thing that I love doing and I know I’m capable [of] and I do best, so might as well stick to that rather than go to other territories. And, I promised myself when I was young, I said that I’ll be doing this forever until I grow old. I’m going there, but this is my happiness and this is my passion that’s why I will be committed," he continues.
His words become even more potent when you learn that Jay is the only founding member of South Border left.
And while his love for music will remain the same until he and his band mates have all grown grey, how this love manifests has changed over the years. Jay has enjoyed singing onstage in front of sold-out crowds for close to three decades as of today; though these days, he finds himself happier when he's behind the scenes, arranging and producing music for his band, as well as other acts.
"They call me the behind-the-scenes guy. I produce. I enjoy that more than being a front liner on stage. I just get this feeling of [highness] when I do any arrangement with a band, especially when its impromptu or you’re shaping the sounds and the melody as well, doing an old song," he explains.
He goes on to say that he finds great joy in being able to present a familiar piece of music in fresh and exciting ways; material doesn't have to be brand new to make an impact. If you have the talent Jay has, re-arranging songs, especially when done on the spot in front of a live audience with no prior planning, is easy peasy, a challenge that's very much welcome.
And seeing listeners' elated reactions to a revitalized version of a hit they're hearing exclusively in that moment—the experience is priceless, epic, and motivating, all at once.
The experience is so powerful that Jay calls it a top reason to spend time with his band mates.
"The best part of being with my band is the magical feeling that could happen any moment whenever there’s an arrangement going on on the spot. It’s something of a risk but when you pull it off and you did it great; it’s like going home with a big smile," he shares.
Looking back at his vibrant career in music, Jay sees only blessings in his midst, the very first of which is conceiving a band in the 90s when the global and local music industries were oozing with creativity, variety and originality. (Nineties kids will remember; Parokya ni Edgar rose to stardom at the same time Alanis Morissette became a household name. Nirvana had ushered in grunge to massive critical acclaim as The Company was working up a storm in the Philippines, while Eraserheads and Rivermaya became kings of rock and roll right when Boyz II Men was becoming the name to know in R&B).
The myriad of influences definitely helped shape his view of music is flexible and limitless—just like his talent.
And without him mentioning it, there's also the fact that he wrote "Kahit Kailan," arguably South Border's most recognizable song, when he was 14 years old. Whether he wrote it out of heartbreak or out of young love is still up for debate. (Jay does say, however, that whichever end of the emotional spectrum you're on at the moment, write! Use the feelings you have to make music, because you never know. You might just be penning the next big hit in OPM rock).
Bringing things back to the present, as COVID-19 continues to hang like a heavy veil on the world, Jay hasn't given up on the power that his music holds. Never mind that concerts and shows and gigs won't be possible for a long, long time. He's still busy making music magic online with the South Border members, making sure that when live performances get the go, he and his bandmates will be ready with a feast for the eyes and soul.
Of course, it's not a bad thing that lockdown life has allowed him to spend time with his family day in and day out without interruptions, something that wouldn't have happened in pre-COVID life.
"We’ve been busy with the online jamming, trying to find ways to help our frontliners—not just enjoying online. I think we also have a responsibility to do as a band. As a known band in the Philippines, maybe we could pull something out of the ordinary and do something that’s really spectacular and help," Jay reflects.
"We don’t need to go out there and fight the battle against COVID-19. There are experts who are doing this for us. In fact, they are our heroes. What we can do is make sure that the ones who need help get help," he adds.
In particular, Jay points to ABS-CBN's Pantawid ng Pag-Ibig initiative as one of the best charitable channels to donate to for those who wish to be of help to underserved Filipinos during this crisis.
These are tough times, for sure.
They might be some of the toughest yet that Jay has had to live through.
But even so, his eyes are set on the future and despite the bleakness of the present, he has plans for the tomorrows he's sure will eventually come. At the top his mind are collaborations with some of his favorite names in OPM today: Ben&Ben, Moira, dela Torre, KZ Tandingan, and Janine Teñoso.
As for his band's future, he has one and one wish only: that their passion continues to burn without an end in sight.
And when the worst of this crisis has come and gone, you can guess where Jay is headed next (clue: it's sandy and has waves), a place where he'll momentarily trade his music sheets and instruments for a rod, hook, sinker, and line, and end the day with a fresh catch.
But before then, why don't we watch a performance? Jay is part of Metro's Safe & Sound series that features the best in Filipino music, and where else do you find the best aside from someone who's proven that he's stood the test of time, and will continue to do so?
"I would also like to dedicate this to all the frontliners, to all the ones at home who are also helping by staying home, especially to the ones who are challenged and burdened by this pandemic and lockdown. Let’s just hang in there because help is on its way," Jay ends.
Watch South Border's performance for Metro Safe & Sound 3: The Best of OPM 90s - 2000s below:
Catch other performances by The Company, Joey G., Ogie Alcasid, and Regine Velasquez-Alcasid on Metro.Style's YouTube channel.
Photos from @jaydurias @south_border